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City thrash Phoenix 5-1 in A-League

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/02/2017 Cathy Walshe

A full-strength Melbourne City have consolidated their spot in the A-League's top four with a classy 5-1 thrashing of the Phoenix in Wellington.

Missing six players to suspension in last week's 2-2 draw with Brisbane, City stormed back against a hapless Phoenix, slicing through the home team on Saturday with two first-half goals before adding three in a dominant second spell.

After a disrupted couple of weeks, City coach Michael Valkanis was happy with the way his team improved after a lacklustre start.

"In the first 10 minutes I think we came into the game a little bit complacent, a little bit loose, and there were a couple of good opportunities for Wellington," he said.

"After that first 10 minutes when we weathered the storm, we started to control the game with and without the ball."

Phoenix co-coach Des Buckingham said the second-half losses of striker Roy Krishna and defender Tom Doyle to injury were key.

"Roy had to go off, and it unbalanced our front line a little bit," he said.

"Losing Tom Doyle really disrupted our backline, and that's where it went from 3-1 to 5-1. In the last 10 minutes we were very disorganised."

Winless in their past seven away games, City weren't initially convincing and Wellington looked set to take advantage in the 15th minute.

Former Wellington defender Manny Muscat was judged to have brought down Kosta Barbarouses as he closed in on goal, although replays suggested the light touch was outside the area.

It didn't matter - Barbarouses blasted the spot kick into the crossbar, Melbourne cleared and Wellington's best chance went begging.

City hit back almost immediately on the counter, Nick Fitzgerald latching onto a sweeping Anthony Canceres ball and sending it into the net, giving Melbourne the lead after 20 minutes.

City continued to pressure Wellington's makeshift back four, which sorely missed skipper Andrew Durante to suspension and right back Jacob Tratt to injury.

The pressure told as the half-hour mark approached, City earning a free kick when Wellington keeper Glen Moss handled outside his area.

Luke Brattan's attempt fell sweetly for Bruno Fornaroli, who calmly doubled City's lead with his 13th goal of the season.

Ahead 2-0 at the break, City added a third in the 60th minute when Caceres slotted home after a Josh Rose run down the left.

The visitors continued to control play, although Barbarouses pulled one back for Wellington 10 minutes later.

Neil Kilkenny and Nicolas Colazo then added a goal apiece in the closing minutes to wrap up a miserable night for the Phoenix.

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